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Digital ICE: Top Models’ Prerogative

The hardware/software technology Kodak/ASF Digital ICE made a good showing in the earlier top model, Perfection 4870, and was continued in the Perfection 4990. It is a creation of the people from Austin Development Center, a subdivision of Kodak, and is being actively promoted by a number of scanner manufacturers, EPSON among them. Digital ICE is mostly employed in specialized slide-scanners, ordinary flatbed scanners being a kind of exception. I covered the functional aspects of this technology in my article called EPSON Perfection 4870 PHOTO Scanner Review: There Is No Limit to Perfection! and illustrated it with actual scans. Here, I will dwell on some basic points. First, the purpose of Digital ICE is to automatically clean images from such defects as dust specks, scratches, etc. Digital ICE works with both transparent (Digital ICE for Films) and reflective (Digital ICE for Prints) originals.

Digital ICE for Films

If you have ever scanned film, you should know that you cannot safeguard yourself against dust specks whatever the conditions of the scanning may be. It’s simply impossible to have the original (as well as the scanner’s bed) absolutely clean. Film attracts dust due to electrostatic forces and all this results in your having to spend more time post-processing the image in the traditional way, i.e. in an image-editing program. Digital ICE for Films helps to spare you some of your time. This technology uses an additional fourth channel, the so-called defects channel, when scanning transparent originals. The surface of the original is additionally scanned in the infrared range to gather information about mechanical defects on the film. Basing on this info, the computer retouches the image where those defects occur. Digital ICE for Films doesn’t work with ordinary black-and-white film as well as with Kodachrome 64 Professional film.

Digital ICE for Prints

Photographs need to be cleared from dust, too, don’t they? Digital ICE for Prints works with opaque originals, searching for dust and scratches on their surface. To do that, the scanning is performed in two passes, with the help of two light sources. By the way, the placement of the two lamps can be clearly seen on the scanner’s carriage. Highlighted at two different angles, the surface produces different patterns of shadows cast by those surface artifacts. The data is then transferred to the computer that performs the necessary retouching. This technology shows its best if enabled to digitize old, horribly-looking photographs.

Both technologies require powerful hardware to run. The CPU, memory and hard drive now become relevant factors for determining the scanning speed. Below you can see the recommended hardware requirements for a normal operation of a scanner with Digital ICE:

The requirements to the hard disk drive are not about the speed but rather about the free disc space available before scanning with Digital ICE.

For users who don’t have a powerful computer but want to have tools for removing dust from their images, too, EPSON offers the following technology.

Digital ICE Replacement – Dust Removal

EPSON also offers the software-based Dust Removal technology to hide mechanical defects. It doesn’t require too much of system resources, but its quality is somewhat lower.

The above-described technologies are available from the scan program’s window. The user selects the desired cleaning method depending on his/her requirements to the quality and scan speed.

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